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Provost, LACOED v. Edun

PROVOST LAGOS STATE COLLEGE OF EDUCATION & ORS.

V

DR. KOLAWOLE EDUN & ORS.

SUPREME COURT OF NIGERIA

MUHAMMADU LAWAL UWAIS, CJN ( Presided )

SYLVESTER UMARU ONU, JSC

ANTHONY IKECHUKWU IGUH, JSC (Read the Lead Judgment)

AKINTOLA OLUFEMI EJIWUNMI, JSC

NIKI TOBI, JSC

SC.48/1999

FRIDAY, 27TH FEBRUARY, 2004

COMPLUSORY ACQUISITION - Acquisition of private property Failure of government to comply with the procedure therefor Effect

COMPULSORY ACQUISITION - Acquisition of private property - Need to state particular purpose for which acquired

COMPULSORY ACQUISITION - Notice of acquisition of property Need for to be specific and precise as to the property acquired

EVIDENCE - Unchallenged evidence - Attitude of court thereto

INTERPRETATION OF STATUTE - Amendment to a statute Commencement date of

INTERPRETATION OF STATUTE - Expropriatory statute - How construed - Need for to be construed fortissime contra preferentes

LAND LAW - Acquisition of private property - Failure of government to comply with the procedure therefor - Effect

LAND LAW - Acquisition of private property - Need to state particular purpose for which acquired

LAND LAW - Intention to acquire private property - Need to give notice of before acquiring same

LAND LAW - Notice of acquisition of property - Need for to be specific and precise as to the property acquired

LAND LAW - Possession - Conflicting claims to possession by two parties -  How resolved

LAND LAW - Title to land - Statutory provision for the acquisition of Need for government or any party to comply with

LAND LAW - Trespass - Damages for trespass - Need for plaintiff to establish exclusive possession in a claim for

LAND USE ACT - Acquisition of private property - Need to state particular purpose for which acquired

LAND USE ACT - Intention to acquire private property - Need to give notice of before acquiring same

LAND USE ACT - Notice of acquisition of property - Need for to be specific and precise as to the property acquired

LAND USE ACT - Right of occupancy - Deemed grant - Actual grant Meaning of

LAND USE ACT - Rights of occupancy thereunder - Classification of

LAND USE ACT - Statutory or customary rights of occupancy - Deemed grants of - Whether as valid as actual grant

STATUTE - Public Laws Acquisition (Amendment) Edict, 1976, section 25(1) -  Purport of

WORDS AND PHRASES - ‘Deemed grant’ - ‘Actual grant’ - Meaning of

Issues:

1.              Whether the learned Justices of the Court of Appeal were

right in holding that the plaintiffs (now respondents) have better title to the land than the defendants (now appellants).

2.              Whether obtaining certificate of title or vesting deed is a prerequisite for a valid compulsory acquisition of land under Public Land Acquisition Law or Decree of 1976.

3.              Whether document admitted as exhibit 10 was made by person interested in the subject-matter of the proceeding and therefore offends the provisions of section 91(3) of Evidence Act 1990.

4.              Whether the learned Justices of the Court of Appeal were right to have held the appellants liable in damages for the destruction of the respondents’ structures and for loss of properties.

Facts:

The plaintiffs as respondents claimed for three reliefs in the High Court of Lagos State: (i) N250,000.00 special damages for unlawful destruction of structures and loss of properties; (ii) N500,000.00 general damages for trespass and (iii) a declaration that the plaintiffs were in lawful occupation of the premises.

The claims of the plaintiffs/respondents were dismissed by the learned trial Judge. On appeal, the Court of Appeal set aside the judgment of the trial Judge and entered judgment in favour of the plaintiffs/respondents as follows:

“(1) N250,000 being special damages for unlawful destruction of structures and loss of properties listed in paragraphs 20-21 of the further Amended Statement of Claim.

(2) Declaration that the appellants were in lawful occupation of the said premises.”

Dissatisfied, the defendants/appellant appealed to the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court considered section 25(1) of the Public Lands Acquisition (Amendment) Edict, 1976 which provides thus:

“(1) The Military Governor may at any time after the expiration of the period specified in the notice given under section 8 of this Law, make a vesting order, in respect of the whole or any part of the land described in such notice.

(2)           A vesting order made by the Military Governor under the provisions of subsection (1) of this section shall be published in the State Gazette.

(3)           A vesting order made by the Military Governor in respect of any acquisition made under this law shall confer on the Military Governor in trust for the Government of the Lagos State any estate or interest comprised or referred to therein against all persons, free from all adverse or competing rights,

titles, interests, trusts, claims and demands whatsoever, subject to the terms and conditions, if any, therein mentioned.”